Tag: Verbeek

Ridge Haps wants to be Oranje’s left back

It seems we are doing nicely now, developing defenders and defensive minded players…. Some while back, it seemed we were great at developing wingers, strikers and playmakers… We always complained about the defensive strength of Oranje. Since the 1970s (Israel, Laseroms, Suurbier, Krol, Rijsbergen, Mansveld, Drost, Hulshof) we were never able to develop world class defenders. Frank de Boer, Danny Blind, Reiziger, Wijnstekers…all former attackers. The only real defender with world class capabilities was Jaap Stam. Now, with all that focus from the past decade on “better defenders”, we seem to have a list of potential world class players, from Van Dijk and De Vrij to Strootman and De Roon. From Rick Karsdorp to Riedewald, from Tete to Kongolo and Nathan Ake.

A player who escaped the spying eyes of most big club scouts but who is regularly touted as the coming man for Oranje by analysts in Holland, is called Ridgeciano Haps. Which I will call Ridge Haps from now on :-).

gijp haps

He’s the 23 year old left back of AZ Alkmaar, playing under the guidance of experienced defenders like Ron Vlaar and Stijn Wuytens and part of the weekly core group of players discussing football and tactics with coach John van den Brom.

His Roots

“I was born in Utrecht, like my sister. My parents are from Suriname, but they studied in Holland. My dad used to play football in Suriname but not at a high level. My mom was a very good basketball player. She did play high up, as a playmaker. Fierce and quick. I’m probably more like her, to be honest. She’s a very industrious type. Worked for Abn Amro for 40 years and always giving me advice.”

Early Start

“I didn’t play at a club or anything. My parents didn’t want me to. But I played school football and after one game a guy walked up to my parents and asked where I played. He was gobsmacked I didn’t play for a club. So my parents decided to give me a go, with the Zwaluwen in Utrecht (Swallows). After three weeks, Feyenoord came! I did a six week period there, with Karim Rekik and Annas Achahbar. They were allowed to stay, I wasn’t. I didn’t care, I think I was too young to really care. I went back to the Zwaluwen, I liked it there.”



“A year later, Ajax and PSV wanted me. I was delighted! I picked Ajax, as it’s closer to Utrecht. Every day, my dad drove me to Amsterdam and my first season was great. But I think my second season disappointed as Ajax let me go. This time, I was shattered. I felt like a failure. I thought my future as a pro player was gone. My parents helped me a lot. They said “stick the course, keep believing…” They were convinced there were other avenues to the top. That helped.”


“With my Ajax background, Elinkwijk wanted me. That is one of the best amateur clubs in Utrecht, with good youth development. I went there and the funny thing was that I was playing in a competition with AZ and Ajax as opponents. AZ immediately asked me for a test period. They had this tournament and I went along and played that with AZ. I was voted as player of the tournament and made a move to Alkmaar. By then, my parents decided to relocate to Amsterdam to support my life as a player. I played left winger and I was really good at that age. But after a couple of years, they moved me back, first to midfield, then to left full back. I was pissed off! I didn’t wanna play defender! I was a winger. Everyone started to explain it to me and all that, but I would not listen. Were they crazy ? I would not play in defence. I was horrified. Insulted. I needed to force myself to go to practice and decided to leave.”

u20 haps

AZ Again

“When I left, I got several calls from pro clubs but I had had it with them. I wanted to regain the fun of playing football. AFC called and I decided to go there. A top amateur club, playing against pro club youth teams. Still a good level. But I said: I will come, only if I am allowed to play left winger! And they said: sure. So I did and had great fun there. And at the end of that season, we played a friendly, against… AZ. It ended 4-4. I scored three goals and had one assist. The next day, the AZ Academy director calls me up. “Do you want to come back?”. And I did…  I missed the pressure of a pro club. I wanted to reach for the top. So I went back and 7 months later I was offered my first real contract. I made it. I was a pro player. I played for Young AZ as a left winger which means you train with the full senior squad.”

Gert Jan Verbeek

“After half a season, first team coach Verbeek wants a meeting. He said: “I like how you are developing, but I think there is a wonderful future for you as left back!”. Bam! No, not again… I had to process this. But Verbeek explained why he saw it like that. How left wing backs are the new wingers. How modern wingers play on their wrong foot and move inside. How I would have the ability to go for glory 10 times per 45 minutes. Running, crossing, dribbling… I took some time, and learned from games, focusing on Alba, Lahm, Zabaleta, that sort of players… Dani Alvez… And I saw that Verbeek was right. I realised that position allowed me to do what I want. I have a lot of energy that I need to get out of my system. You can do that on the back spot. I was 19 years old when I made my debut for AZ 1, versus PSV Eindhoven. I knew it then and there: I am a left back!”


The Future

“I’m a lucky guy. I have a good friendship with Max Huiberts (technical director of AZ) as he was my youth coach, years ago. And he was a creative left winger of course. He has a good relationship with my manager as well, I’m with Raiola’s cousin. And the plan is to make a move when the time is right. I’m ambitious. My contract runs till 2019 and I think by then I’d like to move to a Dutch top club, if they want me. And after that, when I prove myself there, maybe something in a bigger competition… But if the top 3 isn’t interested, well… I might make the move away earlier. Money is not my motivator. I want to reach as high as possible. But, the Championship in England these days is also interesting. I do think my game fits a bigger competition. And who knows where my ceiling is…”

haps run


“Am I the left back for the future in Oranje? Well, I don’t know but I sure hope so, hahaha. Oranje is one of my personal goals. I haven’t progressed past Oranje under 20. But, I think it’s realistic to think I’m close. Playing for AZ means you are on the radar, I’m sure. Schaars of Heerenveen, Vlaar who’s with me at AZ… I think I’m playing well this season, but as a team it’s not consistent enough. That doesn’t help of course. A step up will help me with my chances in Oranje as well of course. I think I’m close but not good enough yet. Btw, I’m happy Terence Kongolo is in the squad. He’s a good friend, we played together in the U20s and I think he’s doing really well. I told him, you’re doing so well. And he’s a lovely guy. He said: so are you hahaha. I really like it for him and wish him all the best. But, I’m ambitious and I will go for the left back spot in Oranje!”

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Who is Adam Maher? Meet Oranje's future no. 10

Adam Maher was on the radar of big clubs for years now. But the youngster decided to stick with AZ. He dazzles clubs every week and two weeks back he showed Pirlo and De Rossi what he can do too.

The midfielder is probably playing his last season in the AZ jersey. Ajax or PSV is the next station. “The bigger competitions will have to wait. I’m not ready to leave Holland yet.”

The story of a focused lad, who adores his parents.

“If I ever go abroad then my parents will come with me.”

Till death do them part, they will stay together, father Ider, mother Latifa and son Adam Maher. They still live in an apartment in Diemen, but soon they will move to the house Adam bought for the three of them. If everything goes well, they will to stay together for the rest of their lives.

Father Ider Maher: “I come from a place called Tinghir, situated in the south of Marocco. When I became 20, I moved from Morocco to France, but after a few months I moved on towards the Netherlands. That was in 1970. I lived with a friend in the Beilmer and was able to get a job with “Luycks Tafelzuren”, a factory in Diemen, where we produced mustard’s, different oils, pickles and mayonnaise. I even lived for a short time next to the factory. On Saturday we got Dutch language lessons, but in the evening hours I took extra lessons. The language was the most difficult. I understood little of this new society, did not read any papers, did not watch Dutch television and did not understand people on the street. It was some kind of jungle for me. Many Moroccans came with the idea of working in the Netherlands, making money and going back. I never had that idea. I just went with where life took me. In Morocco there was very little opportunity to work. That’s why I stayed here, to make something from my life. 10 years later I married with Latifa, who lived 50 kilometers from Tinghir.”

Mother Latifa Maher: “December 1980 I saw Ider for the first time, on the day we married. After the marriage I went with him to Diemen. It was tough at first, I had a lot of adjusting to do. That took a year. Then I got a job in a hotel and luckily Ider knew the way in society. Unfortunately there is no family from us over here, only friends and acquaintances.”

Adam Maher: “Until I was 16 I went every year to “our” second house in Tinghir. The last 3 years unfortunately I wasn’t able to go anymore as a result of short vacation periods in football. That won’t change the next 2 years hopefully. If we don’t have long vacations, we always go to our third house in Rabat, which takes far less traveling hours. It is always a pleasure to go to Morocco. Then I am with family, beaches, always nice weather, everything tip top.”

Ider: “It sounds like a lot: 3 houses. However here in Diemen we rent an apartment and the house in Tinhir is from my father. In 1985 we bought our house in Rabat for a couple of thousands of Euro’s. As a factory worker one does not get a big salary, so a house in the Netherlands was not affordable without a mortgage. The idea to have an own house when going on vacation and where we could invite family was important for us. That way we were no trouble for anyone and at the same time did not have to sleep in a hotel.”

Adam: “Tough my father and mother lived in Diemen for over a decade, I was still born in Morocco at Julie the 20th 1993. That is what my parents wanted. I don’t know if I would do the same in case I get children. For my parents it was different, because they came to the Netherlands. I could celebrate something like that in Diemen with my parents now.”

Ider: “If everything goes well, the plan is to stay together forever. Diemen is our base, whatever happens. If Adam stops with working, he will go back to Diemen and so will we.”

Adam: “I do plan to live on my own, but for now we are happy with the three of us. If I go abroad, then they will come with me. No doubt about that. They have always supported me. However we always want to be able to come back to the neighborhood. That’s why we are busy to buy a house in Diemen.”

Ider: “We are so proud that Adam does this for us. We could never have dreamed of it.”

Ider: “When he was young he practiced 3 sports: Judo, swimming and football. I picked him up after school time and brought him everywhere for 2 years. However football was really his thing. When we put a big basket with toys in it in front of him, he always picked something round which he could kick away. When he became 4 years old, we brought him to SV Diemen. Though he was too young to play games, he was allowed to participate in training. They immediately recognized him as somebody with special talent.”

Adam: “The moment I became member of the club FC Diemen, everything in life was build around football. My parents did everything for me, brought me everywhere. My father still watches every training of me. I still don’t have a drivers license, so he brings and picks me up everywhere. If we have played in Kerkrade, they drive back with the 2 of them to Alkmaar and then we go with the 3 of us back home. In the car we recap what went right and what went wrong. My parents are critical and that only makes me better. When I went from SV Diemen to Zeeburgia it became all more serious. I got into a team with the son of Sigi Lens, now my agent, and he saw my potential immediately. I think it was then that my parents started to believe into a professional career as well. However there is a big gap between hearing compliments and becoming a professional player. It’s not something you achieve from one day to the other. I believed in myself, but I am raised with idea, that after hearing a compliment you don’t become full of yourself. My parents told me that I played a good game, but also that I was not there yet if I wanted to become a professional football player. “You are at base level and you still have to go up”.”

Latifa: “We always go to every game of Adam: home, away, abroad, always. I don’t think we ever missed 1 game of Adam.”

Ider: “When he went from Zeeburgia to the AZ youth, the intensive years came along. I brought him often as the bus of AZ did not travel on the good hours for Adam. From 7.30 AM to 10 AM I traveled between home, school and AZ before I could return home. I worked the night shift with TNT. That was a choice, as then I could be there for Adam at day time. However Adam was busy as well! When he was part of the AZ second team, he was also often a bench player for the AZ first team. Then he traveled in the weekends with the first team, to play on a Monday with the second team and there were times he did not have a free day between 3 matchdays.
However he never complains, that’s the way Adam is. We live for the happiness and future of Adam. We never got the feeling it was all too much or that he should quit, as we saw him grow and become stronger. My only thought was: As long as he has a nice future and stays away from trouble on the street. At the moment I don’t do night shift anymore at TNT, that is no longer necessary.”

Adam: “I have the names of my parents on my shoes. My mother left and my father on the right shoe. That’s not very common, as most footballers put the names of their children or wife on their shoes. I have also shoe’s with my own name and number on them, but I loved the idea to put my parents name on it. It is my way of expressing that I am so proud of them and that I accomplished all this thanks to them.”

Adam: “When I turned 15, Lyon, Inter, AC MIlan and Barcelona wanted me. I had a 4 country tournament with Oranje under 16 in Paris and there were a lot of international scouts.”

Latifa: “The scouts of Lyon came to us when we sat in the stadium and asked us if we were the parents of Adam Maher. My husband also speaks French so he did the talking. When we traveled back to the Netherlands, the scout already called back, to check if the number was correct. That was after midnight… ”

Ider: “Adam was not 16 years old and as a result of that, he had no contract with AZ. In other country’s players are allowed to sign a contract at a younger age. It happened to us for the first time and we had no idea what to say. We did not realize exactly what was happening. We gave our number and said we would think about it.”

Ider: “In the car we took the decision he would not go abroad as long as he was still too young. It is for young boys very hard to succeed in foreign country’s. He would have start to all over again, prove himself again, go to a new school and learn a new language and culture. We talked about it with football friends, but almost none of them thought it was a wise thing to let Adam move abroad. We wanted him first to become strong in the Netherlands.”

Adam: “Once we were in the Netherlands I heard from the interest and we have talked with multiple people, also the clubs. Of course it were magnificent clubs, but in the Netherlands I could develop myself in a better way and that was the most important thing. If you come to a new club, then people should come to you to introduce themselves, not the other way around. No foreign adventure we concluded and as a reward I could sign a contract with AZ when I turned 16.”

Ider: “Of course it was a lot of money those clubs offered, but his development was more important. If everything would go well, money and top clubs would come in time automatically. If you choose fame, you will run a bigger risk.”

Adam: “Last season I started out on the bench and after 7 games I became a starter. From that moment on, I always remained a starter, I was often a decisive factor, became talent of the year in the Netherlands and became part of the Dutch national team. At the end of the last season I have made an ambition statement towards the club. If a big Dutch club would come, I would like to make the step up. When journalists asked me about it, I have been open and answered their questions in a straight way. I am not someone who starts lying about his intentions. I still stand for the way I have dealt with the situation and I think I am ready for a next step.”

Ider: “We have always told Adam, whatever you choose, we support you. If you think you can make the next step, then we stand behind you. In the end, Adam is the one who has to do it.”

Adam: “I have experienced this year a lot. Also when I decided to choose for the Dutch National team. I have taken the decision with my parents and have followed my hart. It is really beautiful to represent Morocco, but representing the Netherlands is best for my development. With them you play beautiful tournaments. Apart from that, there is the possibility of top clubs doubting to take me as a result of the Africa Cup period. Not everybody in the Moroccan community agreed with that decision. Everybody had his own opinion, while I think that many people would have taken the same decision in my position. But because they were not, they could burn me to the ground.”

Ider: “We have discussed it of course, but he wanted to go for the most ambitious option. And if that is your aim, the Netherlands is the choice.”

Adam: “I am Moroccan, I have been born in Morocco, but I have lived my whole life in the Netherlands and I also think about my career.”

Latifa: “I think the same way. For me it is about his future. He had to take this decision himself. At first, the family did not understand it, but at a certain moment they accepted the decision.”

Ider: “If he does well in the Netherlands or where else in the world, they are proud as well. That decision was a difficult moment, but after that, it was over. Our close family understood the decision, but the outsiders did not. If I have a discussion with these people and I see them getting angry, I just walk away.”

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Looking ahead to the new season….

Well my friends, the debacle that was the Euro2012 is wearing off a little bit for me.

I actually came out of bed today and tomorrow I will definitely shave, I promised my wife. There is more to life then football, I realised and I hope to find out what exactly, soon…

So, with poor Bert trying to forget his sorrows on some far away island ( with a hefty exit fee in his bank account) and Louis van Gaal scheming and preparing the humiliation of Belgium next month, I am starting to focus on the coming football season.

And I’m not sure I like what I hear/read….

The latest rumour is that Inter and Anzhi have agreed the transfer of Wesley Sneijder to Russia. Now, I don’t care how much he gets ( 15 mio per season?? Really???), I personally want to see him ( and Yolanthe) in England, Spain, Italy or Germany. Not in Russia! Is it all about the money, Wes??

Another rumour says that Raf will have to leave Spurs. Sure, he has hinted at it himself, as Sylvie is making her moolah in Germany but it would again be a bit of setback, being sent away from Real Madrid earlier. Spurs new boss AVB apparently wants to play 4-3-3 and sees no room for Van der Vaart at White Hart Lane. Another disappointment for me.

Van Persie’s future is a bit unsure but we do know he won’t go for Chinese yuans or Russian rubels. I do hope he stays at the Emirates but he will most likely join Man City.

The EPL is getting less interesting for me. Vorm and Krul will keep me interested, but with Kuyt leaving Liverpool and Man City spending money like there is no tomorrow I’m not sure I will focus as much on England as last season. Sure, De Jong and De Guzman will interest me and Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen will be cool to follow but other than that… I do hope we invade Belgium soon… Vermaelen, Kompany, Vertonghen…aaaarrrggh… We would have had one World Cup and one more Euro Cup in our trophy cupboard for sure.

With Dost in Germany, maybe Rafa there too and Robben and Huntelaar in the Bundesliga, I might switch a bit more to the East, giving me a chance to check out Dost and Luuk de Jong too, who might sign for Monchengladbach (if Twente treats him well). Don’t forget, we have Bruma in Hamburg and Elia in Bremen, so heaps to look out for.

Portugal and France don’t offer leagues I’d be following but Ola John, Ricky Wolf and Stijn Schaars do happen to be players I love to watch, so…who knows…

The Dutch Eredivisie might well be the place to hang… Ronald Koeman at Feyenoord and Frank de Boer at Ajax play real Dutch football. Karim El Ahmadi, John Guidetti and Otman Bakkal may have left, but Feyenoord did sign former AZ talent Vormer, ADO marathon man Tim Immers and Heerenveen right back Daryl Janmaat, while the Norwegian/Indian Singh has impressed already.

Ajax will lose Vertonghen and Assaiti and who knows, Vernon Anita but Frank de Boer doesn’t panic. He refuses to pay ridiculous amounts of money for players (like Narsingh) and expect his new recruits to really want to play for the Sons of Gods. If not: see you later.

Bassie getting the Heerenveen suit measured to fit

PSV has new skipper Mark van Bommel in da house, alongside coach Dick Advocaat and is seriously eyeing Luciano Narsingh and Adam Maher. The AZ talent wants to move up a bit and doesn’t believe he’ll play for AZ again.

Gertjan Verbeek at AZ did sign Rasmus Elm brother Victor Elm from Heerenveen and seems to be comfortable with the exit of potentially Maher and Benschop, who left for France.

It’s pretty quiet in Arnhem (Vitesse presented Fred Rutten as their new coach), Groningen ( Robert Maaskant takes the helm), Utrecht ( Jan Wouters stays on board, with potentially Co Adriaanse joining in) and in other places but in Heerenveen the eyes are focused on new coach Marco van Basten, who will need some magic to replace the golden forwards Assaidi, Narsingh and Dost.

Despite another exodus of talent, it’s most likely going to be another exciting season in the Eredivisie, where coaches like Van Basten, De Boer and Koeman will stick to the Dutch school and present some open and attacking football…

And to finish this post off: interestingly our neighbours in the south ( Belgium) have decided to sign a number of Dutch coaches. Mario Been is doing really well at Genk, while former Club Brugge coach Adrie Koster will be active in Belgium as well. Ron Jans signed for Liege/FC Luik and Dutch crown prince coach John van den Brom left the snakepit Vitesse to coach the Belgium top club Anderlecht.

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